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Home Decorating On A Budget

Updated on January 30, 2010

Achieving the "finished" look you'll see in decorating books and magazines requires a financial commitment to your project. Whether you're looking for a few accessories to spruce things up or you're prepared to alter the decor of an entire room, you need to come to terms with what the project will cost. The best way to prepare for the expense is to do some research and become educated about prices ahead of time. The better informed you are, the fewer financial mistakes you will make.

Your Reality Check

Get started by making a shopping list of what you'd like to purchase. With your list in hand, refer to prices in mail-order catalogs and put dollar amounts next to each of the items. Then tally up the total. You will probably be surprised at how quickly the budget adds up; the number is always much more than what people anticipate. You may think it's not possible to alter this figure; however, it can be done by cutting back or doing the project over time (always keeping the grand scheme in mind). Unfortunately, most items have a bottom-line cost and there may be no room for substitutions.

By doing this work ahead of time, you won't be hit with sticker shock once you start shopping.

Assessing the Budget

At this point, you may feel that tackling your design project will interfere with that luxurious vacation or new wardrobe you'd planned. This is where your financial commitment becomes important.

If your total far exceeds what you had budgeted, go back to your shopping list and work at alternatives that better suit your budget. For instance, if to finish off your living room with accessories turns out to be $680 for all the bells and whistles, and you have only allocated $200 to $250, figure out what would make the biggest visual impact to the room and start with that item. A large-scale print over your sofa may make a huge visual difference and that may cost $165:  versus adding an end table next to a chair that would be a nice addition, but will not dramatically complete the room. If you have any leftover dollars from your original budget, think about purchasing a sofa throw and a few accent pillows. This is an easy way to add color, texture or pattern to your living room.

Last Advice Before Buying

Now that you've done your homework and are aware of costs, you can look for appropriate furnishings and, hopefully, a sale here and there. A great budget tip is to consider floor samples. The samples may or may not have shop wear but can generally be purchased at significant savings. If you can get a deal and can live with some minor flaws; it's a great way to save money. Keep in mind though that a bargain piece may not suit the style of your design, so make sure the piece is appropriate and works into your grand scheme. Just because it's the right price doesn't mean it's the right piece. Shop wisely, watch your pennies, and you too can decorate a home without having to take out another mortgage!


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